Where will Al Sharpton be for this one? After encouraging the bereaved Brown family to accept the trappings of political notoriety, will he or his fellow political hacks be there to promote reconciliation and harmony, as Brown’s relatives try to make a life going forward? If not, will anyone be there to care about their lives and priorities in the days ahead?
The questions arise, as, perhaps inevitably, members of Michael Brown’s family seek to earn money from his political brand — and end up disputing who has the rights to it.
It happened Saturday night, October 18th, at about 8:15 pm in the parking lot of Red’s BBQ. It’s the corner of Canfield and West Florissant, just blocks from where Michael Brown was shot and killed.
Police sources tell us Brown’s Grandmother, Pearlie Gordon, along with Brown’s Cousin Tony Petty, were selling t-shirts and other Michael Brown merchandise.
A police report describes a car pulling up and several people getting out. One of those people, was reported to be Michael Brown’s Mom, Lesley McSpadden. A witness described McSpadden yelling ‘You can`t sell this s%$&” One of the relatives, who was selling, reportedly demanded McSpadden show a document proving she had a patent.
The police report says that’s when an unidentified person with McSpadden assaulted Petty so violently that it resulted in a 911 call. A witness tells Fox 2 that the weapon was a metal pipe or pole. The suspect reportedly struck Petty in the face. Medics then took him to Christian Northeast Hospital. The witness said the assault suspect grabbed merchandise and a box of cash believed to contain about $1,400.
News of the brawl in Ferguson came out at about the same time the Daily Mail was reporting indignation from Brown’s relatives over the leaked report of Officer Darren Wilson’s grand jury testimony:
The family of Michael Brown have said that the cop who shot him dead will ‘feel the wrath of God’s vengeance’ after the officer claimed he was acting in self defense.
Sheryl Davis, Brown’s aunt, told MailOnline that she believes Darren Wilson committed murder and that he will suffer retribution in a ‘mighty way’.
She said that Wilson’s actions were ‘evil’ and that he will be punished by a higher power for what he did – even if he is cleared.
Ms. Davis’s sentiments form an interesting counterpoint to the drier analysis of a local law professor, interviewed by the Daily Mail about the prospects for the federal government’s civil-rights case. Peter Joy points out that the case may well be harder to prove than murder:
Peter Joy, a professor at the Washington University of Law in St Louis, has told MailOnline that a charge of civil rights abuse would be a much higher standard than murder or manslaughter.
He said that this is because the jury would have to be certain Wilson intended to violate Brown’s civil rights by shooting him dead. …
‘There are some criminal charges that don’t involve that kind of mental state, like murder.
‘For example anger. They can be guilty of acting knowingly and recklessly, but it is different to intentionally violating a civil right.’
As with the family of Trayvon Martin (and with George Zimmerman, for that matter), one has the sense of ordinary people being rolled over by a juggernaut of theatrical demagoguery: being exploited against a legal system that struggles along, trying quietly to adhere to standards of proof and fairness that are all but forgotten in the media frenzy. Our society certainly doesn’t encourage anyone to bear up nobly under pressure now, or give others the benefit of the doubt, or wait until all the facts are in to render judgment. It encourages us instead to be angry and out of control — and it even despises us when we can control ourselves.
But perhaps more people than we imagine are able see that clearly, and can view Michael Brown’s family not through the lens of cynical judgment but the lens of kindness and sympathy.